Many fresh graduates are told they need to network extensively when they graduate. Having coffees and meeting mentors helps to grow this network, grow your professional presence and work towards landing what your coveted role may be. Networking is more important these days now more than ever as it gets diluted with the digital version more often than not.
Yet there's one place that many graduates fail to see as their network, and that's with their fellow graduates. Even professors and the university can be a wealth of connections you didn't think of, as you may feel that the academic and business worlds are not interconnected.
How your fellow graduates can help
Your fellow classmates are a wealth of a network and should be the first place you build from. Connect with them early on, before graduation, and you'll want to create an authentic rapport with them. The mindset here is that eventually, as you grow in your career, they too will grow, and their networks will also become your networks.
It doesn't even need to be that far into the future as you may not know the full background of your fellow graduates. For example, maybe some are well connected in your particular industry, some may have specialised environments that may be helpful to you, or some may have a more entrepreneurial spirit and can work with you to start your own business. The possibilities are limitless, and you'll also get the most response from these classmates as you're generally on the same level of professional experience.
You may have a lot to offer yourself and one day find yourself in a position where you must recruit for numerous jobs. Accessing that trusted network early on helps fill those positions with people you know you can trust and rely on.
Don’t forget about your professors
Yes, your professors are already your educational mentors and would be glad, in many cases, to see you succeed. Yet they have their own backgrounds that usually go beyond those few classes they may have taught you. Many professors often have connections to the professional world to help with research and data gathering for their academic world. These can actually be some of the strongest links you make and can lead to jobs at times with minimal interviews and more on recommendations.
Of course, you want to make sure you select professors that will say kind words about your academic strength and that you felt impacted your educational path and, subsequently, your career path. Don't think of it as a numbers game, as these networks are more about quality than the quantity of connections.
In the end
Don't feel you graduate and need to start at square zero. You already have a wealth of connections that you can rely on, so don't be afraid to use them. You'd be easily surprised to see how often people will be willing to help and support you, as long as you're ready to ask for it.
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